What do new mothers need most?

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When you think of a new mom, you might think that if she has enough diapers, baby gear, and clothing for her little one, then she’s probably got everything that she needs. While a swing can be invaluable, there are some other things that new mothers need a lot, but may not be able to verbalize well, especially if her personality doesn’t usually tend to be that of accepting or asking for help. Those early days are hard on the mother, who is recovering, as well as the baby in some ways, as she or he adapts to life outside of the womb. Then if you throw in other siblings, especially young ones still requiring a great deal of care themselves, a mother can be stretched quite thin. In order for her to not feel unnecessary extra stress, her community of family and friends ought to come together to give her things that can’t be wrapped up in a box or ordered on a gift registry:

Time to take care of themselves without feeling rushed or guilty

A woman who has given birth recently is dealing with bodily discomfort, healing, pain, and sometimes even stitches, as well as fatigue. The process takes time, and just because a woman has a baby that has constant needs, or children that have more needs on top of that, doesn’t mean she can just ignore her own needs indefinitely. Offering a shower where she doesn’t need to listen for a baby crying, some time to take a nap, the ability to go for a solo walk, or even eat some food while not holding a baby can let a new mom know you care and that she shouldn’t feel guilty for still having needs and wants.

Meals brought or prepped for one less pressure

One of the best gifts you can give a new mom is the gift of freezer-prepped meals. Get some recipes together and bag up some easy-to-fix crockpot meals. Put all of the ingredients in, label it with a sharpie with the name of the dish and the time it needs to cook, and line the freezer with options to get her through the first month or so. If this isn’t possible, or you’re reading this and baby has already come, a meal train is also a wonderful thing to arrange for a new mom. Gather a few friends and let them know that they can sign up for a specific day and time. Make sure you ask about allergies or other dietary restrictions, as well as preferences about delivery. You can also order food from restaurants to be delivered through many meal train websites (and there are several options out there). Not sure if that’s going to be helpful in this specific situation? Go in on some gift cards which the family can use as needed, especially if baby and/or mom are still at the hospital for an extended time.

Someone to fill in the gaps for laundry, dishes, basics

If you’re comfortable throwing in a load of towels, t-shirts, or socks, or loading and unloading the dishwasher, or sweeping the floor and taking out the trash, just spending a few moments doing a simple chore can really take a burden off of a new mom. That quick task might be more than she can manage to get to during the early days, both physically and even mentally and emotionally. There are many precious memories to be made, but the work is tiring as adjustments are made.

New moms probably don’t need random advice, a bunch of people trying to hold their babies, or a ton of people stopping by to chat and be entertained, but if you do come, bring food, the offering of a helping hand, and insistence on giving her some time to herself so that she can catch a few minutes of rest or self-care. Encourage her to do what she needs to do, and to leave what can be handed off to you. What a new mom needs the very most is to feel supported, loved, and seen, as she adapts and cares for her little bundle of joy. Share the joy – and share the work for a bit.

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